Susan Dalesandro, LCSW, clinical supervisor; Linda Mallin, bilingual social worker; Robin Senior, board member and fundraising chair; Barbara Rakusin executive director; Debbie Mallon, LCSW; Ingrid Morales, bilingual outreach specialist; and Ralph Perricelli, MSW.

The staff of Youth & Family Counseling Agency of Oyster Bay-East Norwich made a grand gesture in reaction to the current economic crisis - they accepted cutbacks.

The announcement was made by Robin Senior, who hosted the YFCA fundraiser "Encore! Play It Again" on Saturday, April 25.

She said to guests, "Given this economic climate, I'm sure you've made a choice coming here. I appreciate that you've made us one of your priorities.

"Because of the economic pressures, people need our services and we have had walk-in counseling, and more people for our drug abuse program, as well as requests for food and clothing.

"It's really hard to believe in our community people are living one paycheck away from having no food. But we are able to help. There was a child who couldn't go on a field trip because of lack of funds and we gave $12 for the trip.

"This year there is the story of 'Anna' - a single mom with four children who has been in and out of prison. She had a troubled childhood and drinking was on her agenda. She came to the agency and entered re-hab and couldn't make it; but she came back and now has 20 months of sobriety. She has a full-time job and has made payments for her children in foster care. She also gives us clothing and her extra grocery money. Her success is attributed to the staff of YFCA. They didn't judge her and she was comfortable enough to come back and get the job done.

"We have had huge cuts this year. The board [was one of the many groups that] lost money invested with Bernie Madoff. We lost $100,000 of our endowment. But we are still keeping our BOB program to get teens off the streets three evenings during the summer. We are keeping our Parent-Child Home Program due to our wonderful dedicated staff.

"They have accepted cuts. They gave up their cost-of-living wages; there will be no 403-B match; they are taking a less costly insurance plan and paying part of it themselves. We have also reduced our budget significantly."

She thanked YFCA Executive Director Barbara Rakusin and the staff.

She also thanked the Community Foundation of Oyster Bay saying, "They are like our mother. They gave birth to us. We wouldn't exist without them - they give 50 percent of our funding. But our funders expect us to help ourselves - therefore the need for this party."

She thanked the artists who donated works for the auction and said, "Go and bid."

She added that there was a lesser turnout for the event last year and reiterated: "Thank you for spending your money on us."

Overall it was a good lesson for the community - that was given by the staff - who have proved that they are caring people-persons. We congratulate their empathy in taking on the burdens of our challenged society. - DFK

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